MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There is some ‘hopeful’ news from Zoo Miami amid the tragic bush fires raging in Australia that has killed nearly a half a billion animals. It is the first full appearance of a baby koala, born in May 2019, and now named “Hope”.
While “Hope” was born last year, Wednesday was the first time it the baby joey came completely out of her momma’s pouch.
Koalas are marsupials, which mean they have very short pregnancies, around 30 days. When a koala baby is born, it is practically in an embryonic state, totally hairless with non-developed eyes, tiny limbs, and the size of a bumblebee.
Immediately after being born, the joey makes a difficult journey as it instinctively crawls into the mother’s pouch where it remains for approximately 6 months, continuing to develop, before emerging when it actually looks like a baby koala.
Those 6 months are the most precarious of the infant’s life (Zoo Miami lost several joeys during this period in the past) so it is not until it finally emerges from the pouch and is strong and healthy that zoo staff can breathe a sigh of relief and truly celebrate!!!
“Hope” is the zoo’s third surviving koala birth in its history and the first in more than 28 years.
The mother is “Rinny,” which is short for “Merindah koolawong” which are the Dharug aboriginal words for “beautiful” and “koala.” She is 4 years old and was born at the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina on October 21, 2015. She arrived at Zoo Miami on September 21, 2018 and this is her first baby.
The father is “Milo” and he 8 years old and was born at the San Diego Zoo on July 2, 2011. He arrived at Zoo Miami on May 3, 2016 and this is also his first baby.
WATCH “HOPE” HERE:
Zoo staff are not certain of the sex of the joey.
“Rinny” and “Hope” will not be on exhibit at the zoo for several weeks to make sure both are comfortable and well adjusted before putting them on public view.
“Hope was named in homage to all those who are fighting to protect Australia from the catastrophic fires and as a symbol for what we are praying will be a positive future for koalas,” said Zoo Miami Communications Director Ron Magill.
In addition, Zoo Miami will be donating $10,000 to the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund in support of the efforts being undertaken to save the countless animals being affected by this disaster.
Others interested in supporting this effort can make donations by clicking on https://www.zoo.org.au/fire-fund/ or directly to the Zoo Miami Foundation at https://www.donate.zoomiami.org and stipulate “Australia” in the memo section. Those funds will be added to the initial $10,000 donation made through the Zoo Miami Conservation Fund.